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Trump’s HHS alters CDC documents for political reasons, the official says

Amid the tension between the administration and the CDC, former Trump campaign official-turned-chief HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo and his team had demanded to see the reports from the CDC before they were released, a senior official said. of the administration. HHS officials defended the request, saying the CDC came under the agency’s umbrella and that all communications and public documents needed to be deleted at the top.

A federal official told CNN that in addition to reviewing the reports, HHS political appointee Paul Alexander has regularly added his contribution – often interpreted by CDC officials as political in nature – to weekly scientific reports intended to monitor response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The development marks the latest example of political interference by government officials at the nation̵
7;s health agencies.

The source said some CDC federal health officials believe the interference is an effort to alter communications from CDC scientists so as not to contradict the president. Since the onset of the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus’s significance, sometimes contradicting his White House task force doctors.

In a statement to CNN, Caputo defended the stock and praised Alexander.

“Dr. Paul Alexander is an Oxford-educated epidemiologist and methodologist who specializes in analyzing the work of other scientists. Dr. Alexander advises me on pandemic policy and has been encouraged to share his views with other scientists,” the statement read. . “Like all scientists, his advice is listened to and accepted or rejected by his colleagues.”

Caputo went on to further criticize the CDC, saying, “Our intention is to make sure that evidence, science-based data drives policy through this pandemic – not further grounds for being deep in the bowels of the CDC.”

Trump loyalists and administration officials have expressed frustration with the CDC, which is largely made up of career, non-political employees who they believe are not working in the president’s best interests.

CNN contacted the CDC for comment. CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield has defended the agency in the past and denied that officials are putting politics ahead of science.

The federal health official who spoke to CNN added that HHS made efforts this summer to stop the release of some weekly CDC morbidity and mortality reports all together, some of which focused on the latest information on the coronavirus.

The source could not provide details on which language was changed in these reports by the Trump administration.

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